SCIENCE SCORES IN SOUTHWEST

Byline: RUSTY WILLIAMSON

DALLAS — Chemistry class is still making the grade at Southwest skin care counters.
Treatment products formulated with alpha-hydroxy acids, antioxidants, vitamins and anything that delivers moisture to the skin are bestsellers, said local merchants, who are projecting sales gains of up to 20 percent this year.
High tech innovations aren’t the only factors motivating consumers to buy, though: Wrinkles are.
Merchants said baby boomers starting to develop highly visible wrinkles are seeking remedies, even prizing an efficacious treatment product more than color.
“Consumers are realizing that for makeup to look good, the skin has to look good,” said DeDe Benham, cosmetics manager at Balliet’s, Oklahoma City. “They want effective moisturizers, and they love the acids.”
Balliet’s is angling for a 20 percent sales gain in its skin care business this year and is on target to meet the plan. Its skin care lines are Chanel, Erno Laszlo, La Prairie and Alexandra de Markoff.
Balliet’s recently moved its beauty counters from near the beauty salon to a prominent locale near the women’s apparel departments, which executives hope will amplify sales.
Balliet’s also hopes to get a skin care boost with a new marketing ploy aimed at women who’ve had plastic surgery, joining forces with the Esthetics Institute at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Oklahoma City.
Customers can receive special creams from various Balliet’s vendors to hide redness before leaving the hospital. After recovery, the women can come to the store for skin care counseling, a makeover and more.
At Neiman Marcus, Dallas, the skin care business is excellent, said John Stabenau, vice president and divisional merchandise manager. He noted that aging baby boomers are seeking remedies for wrinkles.
“I think it’s the awareness that the so-called baby boomer is getting older and they want to take care of their skin,” he said. “AHA’s and ‘oxygenation’ are still among the key trends.”
The best-selling skin care lines at Neiman Marcus are LancOme, Sisley, Chanel, Kiehl’s, Estee Lauder and Origins, according to Stabenau.
Skin care sales are on the rise at J.C. Penney Co., based in Plano, Tex., reported Ann Gravseth, merchandise manager.
Particularly popular are “any skin care product that add or allows the skin to retain moisture,” said Gravseth. “Firming products and eye products have been terrific sellers. So have antioxidant skin care products, items that repair the skin from the inside out and products that provide protection and repair the skin to a smoother, firmer and more radiant appearance.”
Vitamin-enriched formulations and those with SPF protection are sales winners, while new launches are also boosting Penney’s skin care volume, in particular recent entries by Ultima II and Payot.
Best-selling brands at Penney’s are Ultima II, Charles of the Ritz, Iman, and Color Me Beautiful, Gravseth said. Like the business at department and specialty stores, skin care momentum keeps rolling at The Village Pharmacy, said Wilhelmina Von Heflick, cosmetics manager, adding that sales are ahead 10 percent against last year.
The store, located in ritzy Highland Park Village near the Calvin Klein and Polo Ralph Lauren designer boutiques, caters to a wealthy crowd and devotes about one-fourth of the store to beauty.
The top skin care lines include Elizabeth Arden, Aida Gray, Mustella, Ahava, L’Oreal’s PlAnitude, MD Formulation, Heidi Nail Solutions and Ethocyn, a new glycolic-acid based line.
“Every year, customers seem to pay more attention to skin,” said Von Heflick. “Spring and summer are fast approaching, and both women and men are already planning for their skin care needs. They really worry about the sun.”

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